For the second consecutive year, NBC Sports steered viewers watching the NBA Finals on Sunday night to a post-game show airing on sister cable network CNBC. And once again, NBC affiliates weren’t exactly thrilled about it.
While NBC tried to cushion the blow this time by telling viewers about the programming and local news that would be following on their NBC station, the announcers also let it be known that basketball fans may want to tune in CNBC, anyway.
Executives at NBC stations were prepared this time. The network has made no bones about the fact that it has no plans to change this strategy in the immediate future. But surprised or not, affiliates remained upset about what they perceive as a cavalier disregard for their audience concerns.
“They have been doing this sort of thing with increasing regularity,” said Mike Carson, VP and G.M. at WHDH, NBC’s affiliate in Boston.
“The network made it very clear at the last affiliates conference that this is just the way it’s going to be, that they have a direction they must move in to plan their strategy and keep up with where the business is going. Unfortunately, their interests just happen to conflict with my best interests right now. I think it stinks.
“I don’t like it, but unfortunately I have no recourse.”
NBC affiliate board chairman Douglas Adams, VP and G.M. at Dallas NBC affil KXAS, said he believes that by telling people what is coming up on their NBC station in addition to the CNBC post-game, it addresses affiliate concerns.
“Yeah, well, not this affiliate,” said Greg Kelly, VP and G.M. at KCRA Sacramento. “But what are you gonna do? It’s a frustrating world.”
Actually, Kelly added, it bothers him even more that (“NBC Nightly News” anchor) Tom Brokaw steers people to MSNBC every night of the week. That one bugs me every night. Actually, it bugs me twice — once while I’m screening the feed and once when I’m watching the show.”
Meanwhile, the Nielsen overnight figures for Game 1 of the NBA Finals, pitting Chicago and Utah, drew a 17.8 rating and 29 share in the 37 metered markets, down about a point in rating from last year’s opener between Chicago and Seattle. National ratings are due out today.